Should a person who has been convicted of rape, be allowed to work in a very high profile position where he is adulated by impressionable young people?
The publicity of the Evans conviction has highlighted some of the legal issues about sexual consent to a wider audience and hopefully this will result in some constructive debate and improved attitudes towards sexual violence. Any contribution to reduce sexual violence needs careful consideration.
Reducing crime fundamentally improves our quality of life and sustained employment is the single most important factor in reducing re-offending.
While employment empowers positive change the Ched Evans case has complicated cause and effect implications. If Ched Evans’ returns to professional football, would this represent acceptance or normalisation of sexual violence?
We don’t know for sure but vile threats towards Jessica Ennis-Hill after her intervention suggest that there is some merit to this argument but is Ched Evans responsible for the comments and attitudes of others? He has never publicly promoted sexual violence as a means of response to disagreement.
Evans’ return to football would have been smoother, if he had demonstrated reform and remorse but instead he has chosen to appeal his conviction. For the time being, he is a convicted rapist but his co-defendant is not. The behaviour of both men on that night was fundamentally wrong and we have a wider challenge to improve the attitude of some young men towards women more generally.
Taking responsibility is a critical component for safe and sustainable employment in the Apply With Conviction and Recruit With Conviction models. Failure to take responsibility can occur if an individual is in denial and genuinely fails to understand the consequences of their behaviour. This is intrinsically linked with self preservation. More rarely, it is the result of a miscarriage of justice but that is a matter for the courts – not intuitive beliefs based on one side of an argument.
If Evans wins his appeal then public knowledge of what really went on that night will not change much but he will be relabelled from a rapist to a victim in a miscarriage of justice. In reality those words are hollow but similarly other terms like “offender” or “murderer” mask many other truths.
Ched Evans is a footballer, he has a talent for football that is rare and is perhaps only found in 1 in every 100,000 people or more. But what does it say about our society if we seek moral guidance from somebody on the grounds of their wealth or ability to kick a ball rather than their compassion and decency?
He has been convicted of a serious crime and served his prison time. Banishing him from his profession and denying him the opportunity to compete for work is an understandable moral gut reaction. After all, rape is a disgusting behaviour. However, Evans is now one of the most vilified and marginalised people in our society. He is a national figure of hate but he is also a human being with many perfections and imperfections. So while our gut reaction is to repulse against vile behaviour, a sound analysis of the facts suggests that our society is better served by stopping the hatred and letting him work. If Ched Evans and others like him are allowed to fulfil their potential and develop compassion, rather than get angry, self destruct and harm other people, then the world will be a slightly better place.
Employment is widely used to support rehabilitative processes across a broad spectrum of problems which affect human beings. This includes criminality, addictions and mental health issues. With a little creativity and collaboration, rather than witch-hunts and tribal fighting then great outcomes can be achieved. A football club could work with Evans, his probation officers and others so that this young man can develop positively, perhaps donate a significant proportion of his large salary to charity and play the beautiful game.